An Apple a Day

Cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, lemon juice, sugar…

These are the things that have covered my kitchen counter tops for the last 5 days.  That, and about 50 pounds of apples and 30 pounds of pears!  This is one of my favorite parts of the start of the Fall season.  Every year Aaron and I head on over to Hood River, Oregon and take  a drive through the Fruit Loop.  This year my parents were able to join us, and it was lovely!  We stopped at Rasmussen Farms this year to buy our fruit.  I learned years ago from Aaron’s grandma that the ONLY apple to use when making applesauce is a Gravenstein, and while I have nothing to compare it to because I took her advice, it makes the most heavenly sauce.  I’m fairly certain if you were able to taste it now, your heart may stop beating at the shear shock of its wonderfulness.  Because of that, I’ll make sure to keep it here at my house…just in case.

As a side note, after we picked up our boxes of fruit we stopped here and got fresh peach milkshakes and homemade blueberry and huckleberry hand pies.  This place was awesome!  It will be an annual stop for us from here on out!

I started this past weekend with a 30 pound box of pears.  I processed 15 jars of my favorite pear vanilla jam.  I found a jar of this at a fruit stand several years ago and was able to replicate the recipe.  I love it!

With the rest of the pears I made pear butter, which I’ve never made before.  I combined a few recipes that I found and even added some cardamom, one of my favorite spices.  The result…grand!

Today I tackled the apples.  50 pounds equals two LARGE boxes and knowing I’ll be at it all day is usually rather daunting.

However, making applesauce has been a favorite of mine since shortly after Aaron and I got married.  His grandma and mother taught me everything I need to know about making the perfect applesauce.  There are two schools of thought on this…those that think applesauce should be chunky, and those that are adamant it should remain smooth.  I’m privy to a smooth sauce even though it definitely takes more time to create since you have to use a sieve.  If you’re like me and know that smooth applesauce is where it’s at, here’s how to do it!

Start by washing off the apples

Next cut the apples into quarters and place in a large pot filled about half way up.  Add about 1/8 cup water.  The great thing about using a sieve is that you don’t have to peel or core the apples before cooking them down!  Cook on medium low heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft enough to push through the sieve.

Push the cooked apples through the sieve until all that’s left in the sieve are apple peels, seeds, and core.  Add cinnamon and sugar to taste!

I prefer to freeze my applesauce instead of canning it because it just seems to taste more fresh when I’m ready to consume it.  I made 32 pints today!

Tonight I finished the apples up with a batch of apple butter and had sweet recollections of my childhood.  Apple butter has always been a favorite of mine.  I used to scoot on into our kitchen, open up our cupboards, pull out the apple butter, spread it onto a piece of white bread and mmmmmm…mmmmmm!  YUM!  Homemade apple butter is even better!  It’s flavor is so much more rich!

I love the feeling of accomplishment I have after a full day of preserving.  It makes me feel good.  And I love when my home smells like apples and spices.  Here’s to the start of Fall!

Annie’s Pear Butter

Yield: 8-9 8-oz jars

5 lbs pears, peeled, cored and chopped

2 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger

1/4 tsp anise seed

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 cups sugar

  1. Place all ingredients into a crock pot and place lid loosely over the top.  Cook on low heat for 12 hours.  I do mine overnight so it smells good the next morning. 🙂
  2. Pour all contents into a food processor (may need to do in a few batches) and process until smooth.
  3. Pour into hot, sterilized jars, allowing for 1/4 inch head space between the pear butter and the rims of the jars.  Sterilize the lids by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them.  Wipe the rims of the jars clean before applying the lids.  Use a hot water bath for 10 minutes (20 minutes if you’re in Bend because of the elevation) to ensure a good seal.  Take out of the water bath and listen for that pop (the button in the middle of the lid should be down if it has sealed properly)!  They should all seal within the first half hour of being done.  If they haven’t sealed within an hour, you’ll need to refrigerate them and use them right away.  If you have never canned before, read up on it before you start!

Apple Butter

Yield: 9-10 pints

9 quarts applesauce

2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp allspice

4 cups sugar

**Make sure you are using a crock pot large enough to hold 9-10 quarts of liquid.  If your crock pot is smaller, adjust measurements as needed.

  1. Apple butter starts with applesauce!  You can use store bought, but it will taste so much better with fresh applesauce.  Fill the crock pot with applesauce to within 2 inches of the top, leaving aside about 1-2 quarts of applesauce to add at a later time.  Add all of the spices and half of the sugar.
  2. Turn the heat to low and cover loosely so that it continues to thicken while cooking.  Leave it to cook for 6-12 hours.  You can stir it occasionally but it’s not necessary.  It shouldn’t burn on low.
  3. Add the remaining applesauce and the rest of the sugar and let cook for another 1-2 hours to mix the flavors.
  4. Sterilize your jars, rings and lids.
  5. Turn heat off on the crock pot and use an immersion blender to make the apple butter completely smooth.  If it ends up being too thick, add a little apple juice and blend it in.  If it’s not thick enough, let it cook some more with the lid off so the steam can escape.
  6. Fill jars to within 1/4 inch of the top, wipe any spilled apple butter off the top, place the lid and tighten the ring around it.
  7. Process the jars for 10 minutes (20 if you’re  in Bend because of the elevation) in a hot water bath.  Remove and leave on counter as they seal and cool.

8 thoughts on “An Apple a Day

  1. Matthew J. Kirk says:

    Regrettably I will have to stop reading this blog.
    I cannot every get through it without my mouth watering and being that I am over 49 hours away… I will never partake in such yummyness.

    Good bye Sweet Annies Kitchen the ride has been fun…

    j/k it all looks so fabulous!

  2. Sweet J says:

    Yummy peach shakes! Everything looks so good, dang it’s hard to live far away from your kitchen. 🙂

    You used one of my pictures, huh? I feel like I contributed this time, ha!!

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